Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Panzer Campaigns France '40 AAR: The Battle of Abbeville, the Second day

Today's history lesson and Panzer Campaigns After Action Report comes from Abbeville France. Below is the scenario debriefing. The scenario is 12 turns long.
Abbeville, France, 28th May 1940: After the failed attack by the British and French combined force on Abbeville the 27th, the French High Command decided to send De Gaulle, promoted to temporary general four days earlier, to attack. After moving his 4e DCR a distance of 200km, losing some tanks on the way due to mechanical problems, the 4e DCR finally arrives. The objective is to destroy the German pocket south of Abbeville and control the city. At the beginning of the operation the attack met with success. The first German defenses were destroyed and prisoners taken. Then the Germans, recovering from their surprise, strengthened their defense line and stopped the French. The French continued their attack on the pocket on the morning of the 29th but without success.

I played the Germans and let the computer handle the French on the attack. This scenario was pretty tough but only 12 turns long and thank goodness because without armor I was not sure I could hold off what the French threw at me for too long. Onto the AAR:

TURN 1

As the German player I had a lot of fixed units so had to make do with dug in infantry and anti tank guns for the majority of the game until my units were released later. I had the 57th Infantry Division at my disposal. The German units are LIGHT blue the French are DARKER blue. Below is the opening situation.



TURN 2

I have a lot of fixed units but luckily I have a lot of anti tank guns in nice dug in positions. While I cannot move too much I manage to open fire on French armor that gets too close south of Abbeville (north of Bailleul) and disrupt the stack which will keep them from advancing too far or making any major break through.



South of Huppy I drop artillery rounds on a stack of French armor. This was something that would happen all game long. The French stack is shown on the left, my artillery assignments are shown on the right. You can select an artillery unit in the game and the game will highlight targetable hexes and all you need to do is right click to fire on the hex.



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TURN 3

On turn 3 the majority of the 57th Infantry Division is released. This lets me move units down from Abbeville to plug holes if need be. The command report in the game tells you what units get released. Make sure to always read it carefully. If units recover fatigue or change status you can click the unit name and the map will highlight that unit.

TURN 4

On turn 4 I move my 88mm anti tank guns south from Monts de Caubert and decide to engage the French armor early in an attempt to cause enough damage to them that they cannot penetrate my fortified lines. I send one gun south to the Huppy area and one gun West towards Moyeneville. The mighty 88's have a hard target attack value range of 2 hexes so against armor they will be invaluable. This will let me engage them at long range if they attempt to move close.

TURN 5

Here they come! The French armor groups are released and they storm forward. Looking at the hex stack that is coming at me I have to wonder how the heck I am going to hold off that much armor, then I realize I had moved my 88 up and stacked in a fortified hex along with some other AT guns. Together they would be the linchpin of my defense along that road and hopefully hold off as many allied tanks as possible so I get reserves over there.



Oddly enough I look SW of Huppy and I see the lone HQ of the 4e DCR just sitting there all alone so of course I need to take a stab at attacking it. I cannot believe my good fortune so I strike out with a unit of 193 men of the 217th and take a long shot that I can tear up that HQ unit. I don't think I take enough men but I have to try it just to see how the AI reacts.

TURN 6

As I feared the French HQ turns tale and runs after I fire on it one time and it goes pretty far. Now I have to pull my unit back. As the French and British armor approaches my nested AT guns I open fire, disrupting many and dropping artillery on them as well. They have held for now, and I know that the Allies will have to work hard to get around that hex. Since I have LOCKING ZOC's turned on they cannot just blow right by me.I move infantry in behind the hex as well. That infantry had rushed over in TRAVEL mode (or "T" mode as the players call it) and reinforced my west front. This also provided a cushion for my my 88 gun which can shoot 2 hexes.



TURN 7

Just NE of Bailleul I get assaulted and pushed back by a large force of French armor. The Germans defending the hex are heavily fatigued and have a low morale. No one expected this! To the I have to drop back and try to shore up my defenses, but meanwhile west near Huppy I launch a small counterattack and drive back a French recon unit



A small attack west of Huppy leaves me room to breath:

TURN 9

The French come at me hard but it is the British Expeditionary Force (or BEF) armor that does most of the work. Gathering up and assaulting me heavily I am overrun and outnumbered and the Allies take Moyenneville and its 40 Victory points. This is UNACCEPTABLE! I must form some sort of counterattack and strike back! Altogether they attack me with over 15 vehicles. Since they are all hard targets I know what must be done! AT guns, artillery shelling and some close assaults with infantry.

TURN 10

I quickly commit my reserves from Abbeville and then plug the holes outside Moyenneville. I also counter attack west of Huppy. The French there do not budge even after a assault on the hex. I do manage to isolate and disrupt the hex though so it is basically useless to the Allies. You can see on the blue arrows that the French also hit me hard north of Bailleul and I barely manage to hold that gap. The game is drawing to a close. I have no doubt I will hold but how big will my victory be?

TURN 11

The BEF is forced to withdraw some forces from Moyenneville and I take this time to launch an all or nothing assault in the next to last turn to take the town back. I get an insane odds amount of 2272 to 25 since the British have left only 4 vehicles in the entire town! I forced the Brits to leave the town by striking hard with my 88 and my artillery along the road leading into Abbeville and then moved my infantry in. This forced the Allies to react to plug a hole I created.

TURN 12

I retake Moyenneville easily and get my 40 points back! The game ends and I score a MAJOR VICTORY for the Axis.

This was a fun game. There were points where I was biting my nails hoping the AI would not win an assault or manage to overrun some of my lesser defended hexes. This was without Fog of War on and now I have to try a game with FoW off so that I cannot plan ahead so well. Overall a tense scenario and great fun!